Rhonda has been married to Tom for 40 years. Rhonda and Tom lived in Hutchinson, KS for 19 years where they raised their 3 kids. All 3 of their kids are now married and have made her a proud grandmother of 6 (one who is in heaven) beautiful grandchildren. Tom’s work moved them to Kansas City, MO 3 1/2 years ago. Moving to a new town is a big transition in our lives. In the interview below Rhonda shares how she foundHOPE after this big transition.
What was the most difficult part about your transition?
The loneliness. I knew absolutely no one when we arrived in KC, plus we built a house in a new neighborhood so there was only one other family that lived on our street. To help with this I did something quite crazy. I bought a dog to keep me company. I’ve never been an animal person so that tells you how lonely I truly was.
Well, one day I was outside with my new puppy when two ladies walked by. They stopped to say hi and were very nice to me. I remember that feeling of longing to have friends like that in my life, but it was not to be, yet.
I should also mention that I did have my youngest daughter and her husband living in KC which was awesome, but they were dental students in the heart of KC. Needless to say I was not about to drive into the busy city. Plus they were newlyweds, and also very busy with school, so they didn’t need me popping in on them!
We did see them on Sundays at church and for dinner after, which made my Sundays very special. It helped in that it gave me purpose as I used part of the week to grocery shop and plan our meal together. I doubt they knew how much it meant to me that we would all be together for church and Sunday dinner.
In July the following year, my other daughter and her family moved into the area. Then in November my son also moved to KC. If you had told me that all of my children were going to live so close one year after moving here I wouldn’t have believed it!
I had always wanted to live in the same city of at least one of my children and their family. Here God had blessed me with all of them close by! What a special gift from God, and another lesson about trusting God and waiting on his timing!
Where did you find new friendships and meaningful connections?
I eventually started finding friendships and meaningful connections in the church we were attending.
Being a former church secretary, I took a huge step by walking into this very large church where I knew no one, and offered to volunteer in the church office. I began to at least feel like I had purpose even if it was just one hour a week.
I eventually found out about their ladies Bible study and started attending. I didn’t connect well with the first group, but I didn’t give up. I tried again and I almost walked away due to not being on the sign up list. As I was about to leave God brought a young lady up to me who invited me into her group.
They welcomed me right in, and it felt great! In fact as we were going around the table to introduce ourselves guess who was in the group? Yep, the two ladies who stopped to talk to me (and Mekali) as they walked by my house. Now, I know that was not an accident. God had that planned before I even moved in.
I have been attending this same study group for three years and I am now one of the leaders. We not only meet each week to study God’s word , but we go to lunch together, talk on the phone, and most importantly we lift up each other in prayer.
In addition to this wonderful ladies group eventually a small group spun off of that group of ladies which Tom (my husband) and I are enjoying attending each Wednesday night.
What did you find most helpful in this transition?
Of course my husband was always very caring and helpful to me. He would encourage me to get out. He listened to me, tried to understand my feelings, and he never complained when I went shopping and bought more than I should. A new house means more decorating and more purchases…..right?
Also, as crazy as it sounds Facebook was very helpful with my move. It allowed me to stay connected with my friends back home. It filled a lot of empty time that I would have had without it.
I also had a dear friend from my small group back home that I called every week, and she would even take time to call me to check in on me. She never made me feel that I was being a pest. She was always there to listen and to encourage me during those lonely days. This must have lasted for a year or more, but she hung in there. I thank God for her sweet spirit.
If you aren’t in a church small group I encourage you to find one. You won’t regret it.
What really is constant in my life during that time and throughout my life has been my daily quiet time. Reading God’s word and praying is the most important part of my day. My day is not the same if I miss having it.
No matter what’s going on in my life I can depend on God to shed light on that situation when I’m reading his word and praying.
What verse was special and encouraging to you during this time?
The verses that have always spoken to me are Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
This verse has always spoken to me in pretty much all circumstances in my life. It reminds me that God is omniscient. He see’s all and knows all, for which I’m very thankful. All I have to do is trust him….not easy to do sometimes, but hopefully, I’m getting better at it.
How long did you grieve the move?
I would say the first year was the hardest. Each season that passed seem to bring back more memories of family and friends from our hometown where we had lived and raised our family.
Eventually, I even tried a part-time job. While that did keep me busy and gave me purpose it was a bit more than I expected. I felt pulled between it and being available to help my family, but I stuck it out for almost two years before I went back into retirement.
It’s been 3 ½ years since our move and I can honestly say that I am finally feel at home. That may sound like a very long time, but I suppose what made it harder for me is that I am an empty nester. I have made many moves in my younger years which weren’t as hard. Having children seems to get you plugged into the community a lot quicker.
I would like to finish by saying that I only managed to get through this move and all the others because of the strength that the Lord gave me. I believed in the promises of many scripture verses such as Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him”.
He also reminds me to take it one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 says “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Without the truth and promises of God’s Holy word I couldn’t have done it and wouldn’t have wanted to even try to without my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walking beside me.
Katie is a midtwenty year old who found herself struggling with the transition into adulthood. She has been in small town KS since graduating from college. She was excited to get a job as an elementary school teacher but then she found herself struggling with feeling stuck in a rut which made her feel unsuccessful in all areas, personal and professional.
What was the most difficult part about your transition?
At first I just thought this is what being a grown up is. Once I knew something had to it change it was identifying why I felt overwhelmed and like I was stuck in a box.
What did you do to get outside of the box?
I hired a coach, Rayna. I explored what needed to change. I began a plan of action to seek peace with God, developed a budget plan, sought new social opportunities and found a routine that lead to more sleep. Finding one problem helped me to go deeper and deeper and deeper to really get to the root of what I needed to find peace. I started reading the Bible more and even joined an online Bible study.
What do you think was most helpful for you to move into the hope and peace you were wanting?
Having a plan on paper to be able to see what I needed to do to move forward. Journaling was also a big help to me and something I have continued to do today.
Was there a special verse that the Lord used to encourage you during this time?
Yes, definitely. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
How did your faith grow from this transition time in your life?
I found a deeper and more real relationship with God. More of a reliance with Him in each moment of the day.
Do you think you would have found that without this period of time in your life?
No, with all the struggle there was growth. The environment and challenges really pushed me to grow. They helped me to realize that I can only rely on God for sure.
Katie has moved from being stuck in a box, feeling alone, and confused to hope, looking forward to change, with excitement about what is next.
Life if full of transitions. All of us have had to make the transition from dependence on our parents to provide daily needs for us to growing up and needing to take care of things ourselves.
Have you ever found yourself making poor choices and ending up in trouble with money?
I feel that my parents did a pretty good job raising me to understand hard work and money and how they go together. They also taught me to make good choices with money but when I got married I did not know how to work with someone else and managing money together.
Within 5 years we were so far in debt I did not see how in the world we would ever get out. Living pay check to pay check was our lifestyle until health concerns took one of those pay checks away. Now what?
Eventually, we took advantage of a program which helped us set up a plan with our creditors and make payments. This plan worked for us but it took 5 years to pay off all the debt at $800 er month. Paying this long meant we paid a lot of interest and struggled for a long time.
Since that time I have had the honor of facilitating Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University 23 times. I have lived debt free and in peace with money for 15 years now. I love the opportunity to help other people find peace in their life while dealing with money.
Here are 4 Things I have learned from FPU to do in order to find peace with money
1. Decide ahead of time
The key to having peace with money is deciding before the money ever makes it into your hands. If you do not give every dollar a name it will disappear. Spending just a little time head of payday determining what you need to do with each and every dollar will make a big difference in how far it goes.
2. Use cash
Convenience has dominated our culture today. I found myself without cash in my wallet for weeks at a time. I just used my debit card. I was not creating debt but I was also not in control of my spending.
3. Embrace the truth that it is not yours
God owns it all. One short sentence packed with so much truth and challenge to our normal thought process. Everything that we work hard for is still a all His. We were chosen to manage that which He has given us. Learning to live this way changes the way we use money.
4. Never stop giving
Even when money is tight it is important to not stop giving to others. Staying others focused helps us to make better decisions with our money. Holding tightly to the money will cause you have a clenched fist which will prevent more money from being able to get into your hand. Learning to hold it loosely because you understand it is not yours anyway changes how it comes and goes in your life.
Each of these life changing lessons I have learned came from Financial Peace. Embracing these concepts have truly helped me learn to live in peace with money. By living debt free I have had opportunities to make life changes that I have felt lead to make. The freedom to follow callings of the Lord is priceless.
How have you learned to handle money? What would you like to do differently?
I clutched my chest in pain; it’s my heart.
I can hardly breathe . . .
Is this it Lord, is it time to come home already? I thought I was called to do more?
I have always felt that the Lord had a special calling on my life.
Since I was the only one who attended church in my family I always felt that the Lord had worked especially hard to draw me to himself. His saving grace has always encouraged me to honor and praise Him in all that I do.
Walking closely with the Lord
As I have shared in other posts, life has brought its share of heartache and stressors but I have always found the Lord to be faithful. (Read more at https://takeheartcoaching.com/making-the-lord-my-best-friend/) I found hope in His precious scriptures and in the peace that only He could bring.
Praying for guidance
At each cross road in my life I faced it with prayer and a heart’s desire to do that which I felt the Lord was telling me. As a teenager I had sensed a calling to serve the Lord as a preacher’s wife, so when I met and married my first husband I thought that was my life long ministry. But when my marriage ended I was unsure how I was to serve now.
Serving when and where ever I can.
I have served as a nursery worker, Small group Bible Study Leader, Women’s Ministry coordinator, and even Financial Peace University Facilitator. I have enjoyed wearing many hats since the pastor’s wife hat was removed.
Then I had elective surgery.
I had torn my ACL (ligament) in my knee years before playing volleyball. I decided to have it fixed, I wasn’t getting any younger and it was getting weaker. Surgery went very well and I was on the mend. Two weeks after surgery, I had worked too long and my knee was really screaming at me. I finally made it home to rest. Suddenly, I had terrible chest pain and felt that I could not take a breath. I was really scared. I had never experienced anything like this before.
As I stood up, I became lightheaded and passed out.
Once I made it to the hospital I found out that I had a saddle pulmonary embolism (a blood clot). The blood clot had passed through my heart chambers causing the pain and then got stuck right where the two major arteries split and go into the two lungs.
I should not have survived.
The clot blocked 5 major arteries, which was why I could not stay conscious when I was upright. Lying on my back the blood could pass through to the lungs and it needed to stay right where it was. If it moved at all, I would not make it. As I spent the next 8 days in the hospital, doctors would come by to meet me because they had never seen a person still alive who had a blood clot as large as mine. Over and over again I was told that I was a miracle.
I knew it wasn’t me that was the miracle, God saved me.
Once I realized the seriousness of what had happened it began to hit me. God was not done with me yet, there was more here on earth for me to do. The feeling that God saved me for something more was clearly placed on my heart. I don’t feel that I completely understand what it is He still has for me yet but I am ready when He reveals it to me.
Until then I will do everything I can to glorify His name in every way every day. Serving in the small stuff or just the daily life stuff is important and that is what I try to do each day.
Do you feel called? How do you live your calling?
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
Ephesians 6:7-8 (NIV)
Have you ever jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire?
I loved my job.
It really was a job that had a lot of things I really loved. I knew that I was making a difference and that was so important to me.
But I felt frustrated, unappreciated, confused, and stuck. I had hit a glass ceiling where I was. I was told that I would not be promoted, I was too young. There was nothing I could do about that.
It was time to move on.
I started the job hunt. It didn’t take long to find another job. It seemed like a dream.
1 application, 1 job interview, 1 new job.
I jumped right out of that frying pan into my new job.
It started off great. I really liked being in charge. I was getting the hang of the new responsibilities and felt like I was making a difference.
Then the crazy started.
When I say crazy I mean crazy. I was the director of a national chain child care facility. After just 3 weeks on the job one of my employees hot lined another employee for child abuse.
It was a one day investigation in which I was told that they were not able to substantiate the charge. I had to tell the parents of 100 children what had happened that day. It went much better than I thought it would.
The next day the employee who made the call did not show up on time to work, I wrote her up. She did come in just in time for the news crew to show up.
I did not want to be on the News.
I have never dreamed of being on the news that was for sure. The parents withdrew their child and I was hoping it was going to settle down.
The next day I was contacted by a local detective. I had to go to the police station to make an offical statement.
Another thing I that was not on my bucket list. This is the point in which I began to think that I had jumped into the fire……
I also was accused for creating a hostile work environment. The story of the fire goes on and on.
Since school was a challenge for me never, never, never give up was deeply ingrained in my character. I was determined to make it work. I was the boss. I could make it right, I just knew I could.
I was so stressed……I could not sleep, I could not eat.
I prayed constantly, asking the Lord for wisdom. I wanted to do a good job. I wanted to be able to be the leader the staff needed. Both the stress and the Lord’s presence were intense during this time.
This intense period of time only lasted for 3 months. I finally heard the Lord clearly, not that He had not been talking I was just struggling to believe I was hearing Him right.
It was His will to step out in faith and walk away.
I resigned and trusted for the next job to come along. It did.
When I look back on this time I remember it as being a bitter sweet time with the Lord. The refining fire was intense but the dependence on my Lord brought me to the place I needed to take another leap of faith and make an even bigger change in my life.
Have you experienced the refiner’s fire? How did it grow your faith?
Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.
Daniel 3: 28
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